Over the past 10 years Poppin Squeeze has evolved from a hot dog cart, to selling lemonade and kettle corn out of a tent, to selling our amazing products out of a 35ft long goose neck trailer. At times, all of us look back and admire where we started and how far we have come. We have made it this far by hard work, determination, and most of all our amazing customers. Our story begins in 2011 with a ten year old boy asking his grandpa where he can get a job.
The year is 2011, the month January. Richard Fergison (Owner) had his grandson Christopher Bish over to stay the night. While there, Christopher asked his grandpa where he could get a job. Richard thought for a moment and couldn't think of a business that would hire a 10 year old. With that in mind, Richard thought back to all of the past businesses he and his wife Sharon Fergison (Owner) have had; businesses including a café, ice company, baseball card retailer, lawn care service, and day care service provider. Richard then got an idea that would shape the next 8 years of his life. He asked Christopher, why not start a business and you can work with me? Christopher, excited about the thought of helping his grandfather start a business, said okay.
Immediately, Richard and Christopher started to work. They researched ideas of what business to start which is affordable and doesn't require years of education and experience. A decision was finally made to start a hot dog cart business. Richard found a 4ft x 8ft hot dog cart for sale in Colorado and bought it! After a long trip to Colorado and back, step one was complete! Next, Richard and Christopher painted the cart and came up with a name and logo. After gathering supplies, equipment, and Nathan Hotdogs, they were ready to sell! Along the way, Aaron Parrish (grandson) saw the process of creating the business and knew he wanted to part of it in some way. So, Aaron was added to the team and started helping. Super dogs of Topeka was born!
After the first year of serving up hot dogs, bad news arrived. Christopher and his family were moving to Texas for his dad's work. Devastated of the idea of their grandchildren living in a different state, Richard and Sharon came close to calling it quites, since the whole business was built around the idea of giving their grandchild a job. However, Aaron was having so much fun working and learning about how a small business runs, he decided to step up and become a permanent worker and help out whenever and wherever he was needed. So, we picked up the pieces and moved on.
Half of a year later sales were not what we wanted them to be, so we searched for new products to sell and fresh squeezed lemonade was chosen! The night before each event we would make gallons of fresh lemonade to sell the next day and it was a hit! Sales were booming and thet business was saved for now.
Before the season of 2013 (year 3) Richard found an miraculous lemonade cart that would allow us to make each glass of lemonade fresh per order right in front of our customers. So the decision was made to invest in this new business model. That same year another product was added to our menu, kettle corn. We also invested in our very first kettle corn popper to start popping freshly made kettle corn at each event along with our lemonade and hot dog cart. Sales increases exponentially and we finally found our niche. Later that year a final decision was made to sell the hot dog cart. The demand for our lemonade and kettle corn far exceeded any demand for our hot dogs. So we sadly parted ways with our first cart and focused our efforts on lemonade and kettle corn. After coming up with a new name and a new logo, Poppin Squeeze was officially born!
Throughout the next couple years Poppin Squeeze grew and prospered gaining additional equipment, employees, and publicity. The main team has always stayed the same (Richard, Sharon, and Aaron) but some excellent employees have come and gone including: Vincent Buchannan, Andrew Fischer and Andy Fergison. Currently we have Lauren Bergman, Alan Parrish, Lisa Parrish, Rikki Brickei, and Harlan Watson helping us out.
As 2016 begins (year 6) Richard and Sharon want to expand and invest yet again. For years we have sold our products in all kinds of weather out of our tents. We finally came into a financial position where we could invest in a trailer to sell out of. So we started searching for food trailers or trucks. Finally, we discovered a custom food trailer builder in Kansas City. We made a trip there to talk with them and discuss plans for a custom lemonade and kettle corn food trailer. We were very impressed with their work and knowledge and decided to invest. Immediately they started work on a 35ft long goose neck trailer. After nearly four months of exhausting trips to KC, constant plan changes, and major decision making it was complete and Poppin Squeeze had a completely different look. Our trailer (what we like to call Big Red) include 5 awning doors, a 50" TV for the menu, a 31" TV in the kitchen, a 10KW Oran Generator, LED lights, a 14' RV awning, a 150 gallon water tank, a bathroom, a deep freeze, mini fridge, microwave, kettle corn popper, sinks, work tables, and so much more!
When construction was finished, the Topeka Capital Journal wrote our story. To read the article click the button!
After getting a taste of the high life with Big Red, we didn't want to go back! Half way through 2017 (year 7) we decided to expand yet again into mini donuts. We invested in another, but smaller food trailer (what we like to call lil' blue) and bought all the equipment necessary to sell freshly made mini donuts. This subset business we call Poppin Minis was born! Poppin Minis sets up at every famers markets and a few events each season.
This year (2018) is our 8th year in the mobile food vending industry. We have come a long way and gained an immense amount of knowledge. From hot dogs to lemonade and kettle corn to now mini donuts, we have done it all. We are so happy that we have had the priveldge of seeing this business grow and evovle throughout the years. All of us hope that we will continue to grow and evolve so that we can continue serving our wonderful customers. Thank you to everyone that has helped make the past 8 years a success!
Click through this slide show to see the construction of Big Red.
From left to right. Aaron Parrish, Richard Fergison, Sharon Fergison, Lauren Bergman.